A group of able, determined people can accomplish what an individual cannot. Witness this video, where about twenty people in China converge to free a woman trapped beneath a car.
From One to Many
Personal Bible study is at the heart of this blog. We advocate the Observation-Interpretation-Application (OIA) method, and we produce and collect resources to help Christians investigate God’s word.
When we adopt a habit of Bible study, we cut the ribbon on an adventure. By his Spirit, God changes us—from the inside out—as we give ourselves to reading, understanding, and obeying his word. Such change is not easy; in fact, it is a series of small deaths. But these deaths are life—we are new people being renewed.
Now multiply the effect of one changed life. Imagine a troop of transformed, growing Christians. Think of the impact a united, thriving, God-glorifying church can have within a community.
Churches and the Bible
Many churches say they are dedicated to the Bible. The pastor preaches from the Bible, the confessional standards are dense with Bible references, and the pews and Sunday school rooms are chock-full.
But how much is a broad allegiance worth? Suppose a grocery store promotes healthy eating in its flyer, but within the shop they conceal the carrots and push the pastries. You can see the company’s values by walking the aisles.
For some churchgoers, the Bible seems irrelevant; for others, it’s impenetrable. They may half-heartedly open the book on Sunday morning but it has no place of honor in their lives. As a church loses regard for the Bible, they also lose the power to love and influence their communities.
You’ll see a different picture when Christians are committed to studying the Bible. The distinction is not one of intelligence or morality, but of authority. Because God has spoken, such believers are devoted (by God’s grace) to reading God’s word closely and obeying, no matter how uncomfortable the conclusions.
Blessings of a Bible Study Culture
This post begins a series on the distinctive marks of churches which have a Bible study culture. We’ll discuss different aspects of the church in future posts, but today I want to highlight God’s gifts through churches like these. Here are seven blessings to expect when your church embraces a Bible study culture.
- Sound doctrine — A church that studies the Bible can stand confidently for truth against all heretical threats.
- Unity — Listen to A.W. Tozer: “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?”
- Obedience — Application of the Bible leads to greater love and obedience, and God blesses obedience. (See James 1:25, Luke 11:28.)
- Help — We often need help studying the Bible, and in a Bible-studying church, we are resources for each other.
- Encouragement — Because Bible study can be difficult, we need encouragement. We will find ample support among like-minded Christians.
- Healthy norms — When a church studies the Bible, it shows how natural and healthy this exercise is. This discipline isn’t reserved for academics or the super-spiritual, this is a normal Christian practice.
- Training — If you want to learn Spanish, move to Spain. New members of a church will pick up Bible study quickly if it is part of the church’s culture. If everyone from grandparents to gradeschoolers is studying the Bible, new members won’t be intimidated to begin.
This series is not meant just for information. In the next post, we’ll start to look at some features of a Bible-studying church. Read prayerfully. Then in your own church, encourage what is present and work toward what is lacking.